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Bonus Tip: Stick with Conventions I mentioned before that the buttons on the hard-to-use spreadsheet were square. If you look at just about any website using a button the ratio of width to height falls roughly in the range 2:1 to about 5:1. Sizes too far outside this range look a bit strange and are not as readily identifiable as buttons. Hyperlinks that you create in Excel can be formatted any colour you like but unless there is a good reason stick with the well-known blue and underlined as in ExcelProductivityTips. The spreadsheet templates that used to ship with Excel were formatted with light yellow for areas of data entry and light green for results. Some people still use this convention.
If not done it can be confusing for the end user and also becomes harder to maintain the spreadsheet. This separation might involve using separate worksheets or just ensuring a clear distinction between the two areas on the one worksheet. 5/ KISS Too much information on one worksheet can be overwhelming and generally simpler is better. The spreadsheet mentioned at the start of this article could have been improved by spreading information over other worksheets. Other ways to achieve a simpler look are: - Using charts to convey information rather than tables of data. - Increasing the row height so that the worksheet is not too dense with data. - Shading every second row on a worksheet with a light colour where there are lots of numbers. 6/ Consider the Normal Flow of a Document The usual way to read a book newspaper or just text on screen is left to right and top to bottom.
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Yet there is no tool for project management that is more popular or widespread than the spreadsheet despite the fact that spreadsheets are not designed to be project support tools. Even in organizations with an established project management tool spreadsheets are used. There are obvious reasons for this. A spreadsheet program is on almost every computer in every organization people are familiar with spreadsheets and how to use them and people are pre-disposed to use these "office" types of software tools to solve problems. And I am right there with them. I love using spreadsheets to track all kinds of data.